Allotments

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 20:45

As all fears of frost fade and we begin summer proper, windowsills and cold frames can finally be emptied of, and the allotment filled with, all those seedlings and cuttings.

If the dry weather continues, it’s vital to not just puddle them in, but also to keep them watered during the first weeks while they get their roots down.

Both the bigger allotment sites in Reepham have had trouble with potato blight, which also affects tomatoes, so I don’t grow mine outside directly in the ground.

Growing them in a greenhouse helps protect them from blight as well as giving them the warmth they love, but since I don’t have a greenhouse on my half-plot, I grow mine at home in pots in a sunny corner, instead.

Home-grown tomatoes, straight from the vine, are sweeter than any you’ll find in the shops.

I understand that Stoney Lane has been having problems with dogs doing their business on allotment site.

If the gate is left open, dogs being walked on Marriott’s Way can run through before their owners can stop them, stressing the chickens and leaving mess behind them. If everyone remembers to keep the gate shut, hopefully the problem should cease.

It’s not too late to sow courgettes and cucumbers for a late summer crop since they look for warmth rather than increasing daylight to produce flowers and fruits.

Succession sowing of peas, French beans, beetroot and salad ensures a continuous harvest rather than a glut, but do water the soil before sowing to give your crops the best possible start.

Meanwhile, as the asparagus season ends in June, the broad bean season has just begun, herbs are producing fragrant foliage, and roses and other cutting flowers are blooming.

And as I pick sun-ripened strawberries, I always share any over-ripe or slug-nibbled fruit with some pretty excited hens.

Sarah Oates

  • To ask about renting an allotment, contact: Jo Boxall, Town Clerk, Reepham Town Hall, Church Street, Reepham, Norfolk NR10 4JW. Tel: 01603 873355 or email. For information on joining RALGA, email or write via the allotment postbox.

 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 17:36

I might like to think of May as the start of summer, but I’ve also seen May bank holidays ruined by gales and heavy rain, and even a late cold snap.

So it’s worth ensuring broad bean plants are supported in case of strong winds and that potatoes are earthed up to protect new shoots from frost damage.

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, the less hardy seedlings can be planted out, including sweet peas and climbing beans.

I’m recycling some sycamore poles to make wigwams this year, which will hopefully be sturdy enough to withstand both the weight of the growing plants and the Norfolk winds.

I’ll also be making sure the soil is warmed through before I plant out. No seedling likes to be plunged into cold soil and runner beans in particular sulk horribly if you do so.

May is also the month of the Chelsea Flower Show, where vegetable gardens have had a bit of a renaissance.

A few years ago, one featured a raised strawberry bed that used gravel instead of straw as the mulch. As well as protecting them from slugs and rot, the gravel reflected the heat and helped the berries to ripen. I may give the idea a try.

There are a few empty plots at the allotments this year, so if you fancy giving allotment gardening a go, have a word with the town clerk, Jo Boxall.

Most plots have raspberry canes and whoever takes over the empty plot next to mine will inherit some magnificent artichoke plants, too.

Fellow allotmenteers often have extra seedlings to help you get started, and the annual cost of a half plot is less than £1 a week, with exercise, fresh air and sunshine included for free.

Sarah Oates

  • To ask about renting an allotment, contact: Jo Boxall, Town Clerk 01603 873355 or email
  • For information on joining RALGA, email or write via the allotment post box.